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Cyber attack remains top business continuity concern, preparedness for all threats urged: Horizon Scan Report


February 21, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter


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Cyber attack, data breach and unplanned IT and telecom outages are the greatest concerns among business continuity professionals, concludes the sixth annual Horizon Scan Report, released Tuesday.

The top three concerns remain unchanged from the last report carried out by U.K.-based Business Continuity Institute (BCI), whose aim is to promote a more resilient world, in association with British Standards Institution (BSI), which seeks to equip businesses with solutions to turn standards of best practice into habits of excellence.

For the top identified concern – cyber attacks – 88% of polled organizations report they are either “extremely concerned” or “concerned” about that possibility, BCI reports in a press release. The threat of a data breach was cited by 81% of respondents and network outages by 80%, the statement adds.

Related: Cyber attack top business continuity threat for second consecutive year: global survey

Despite the top three concerns remaining the same (globally, there was some variations), there was movement up or down for a number of specific business continuity concerns within the Top 10 and one new entry.

  1. security incident – up one spot;
  2. adverse weather – up three spots;
  3. interruption to utility supply – static;
  4. act of terrorism – down three spots;
  5. supply chain disruption – down one spot;
  6. availability of key skills – static;
  7. threat of uncertainty around the introduction of new laws or regulations – new entry (representing the issue’s first time in the Top 10 in the study’s six-year history).

Looking at whether or not actual disruptions over the previous year are fuelling concerns, the Horizon Scan Report shows that nine of the Top 10 concerns also appeared in the Top 10 list of disruptions.

Specifically, unplanned IT and telecom outages topped the list, followed by interruption to utility supply and cyber attack, with data breach coming in at eighth place.

“With the top four threats all showing an increasing in level of concern, it is worrying that 14% of respondents will experience business continuity budget cuts over the next year, making them less likely to be able to respond effectively to these threats,” the statement cautions.

Also worrying is that use of long-term trend analysis to assess and understand threats was down 1% to 69% and just shy of one-third (32%) of respondents do not use the results from their analysis “to inform their business continuity management programs.”

Again, globally, the Horizon Scan Report shows variation when it came to actual disruptions.

Adverse weather appeared in second place throughout North America, Asia and Australasia, while the loss of key employees featured in the highest three spots throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Central and Latin America and the U.K.

Whatever the order, organizations continue to experience disruption. “These external events underscore the interconnected nature of risks and demonstrate the need for businesses to take them into account and plan accordingly,” notes the statement.

“Given the diversity of the threats out there, it is absolutely essential to adopt agile and dynamic responses,” BCI executive director David Thorp says in the statement.

“Planning to recover from a data breach is very different from planning for the aftermath of a terrorist attack, and, as this year’s report highlights, the risk spectrum can be very broad,” Thorp says.

“Malicious Internet actors, political shake-ups and climate change are all amongst the main worries for societies around the world,” he points out.

“We remain concerned to see that businesses are still not fully utilizing the information available to them to identify and remedy weaknesses in their organizational resilience,” suggests Howard Kerr, BSI’s chief executive.

“As always, the key takeaway should be that with challenges come opportunities,” Thorp maintains.

“Change does not have to mean less favourable environments, but the landscape may be different,” he notes.

“Ultimately, organizations must recognize that, while there is risk, and plenty of it, there is also opportunity,” Kerr emphasizes. “Taking advantage of this means that leaders can steer their businesses to not just survive, but thrive,” he contends.